Well, the NFL Draft has come and gone and the Eagles walk away with nine new players to help usher in a new era of Football. In case you’ve missed any of the picks or want a quick refresh before the deep dives begin, here are the vitals on the newest Eagles to the nest.
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
The Eagles gave up pick #84 and pick #12 in order to move up to Dallas and snatch Smith from the clutches of the New York Giants.
After posting back-to-back seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns, Smith exploded to the top of draft boards. He broke the single-season records set by Ja’Maar Chase in 2019 to win the Heisman last year, picking up an astonishing 1,856 yards and averaging 18.5 per catch.
Even with his slim frame, Smith has shown that he has a wide catch radius and can position himself to make those highlight-reel catches. At 6’1, 166 lbs, Smith is certainly on the light side and there is some legitimate worry about if he will be able to soar as high at the NFL level, not that he’s given anyone any reason to doubt him so far.
Landon Dickerson, IOL, Alabama
With the 37th overall pick, the Eagles selected Landon Dickerson out of Alabama.
Dickerson is by far one of the most polished and pro-ready linemen in the class. He can play both guard and center and can do so at a high level. At 6’6, 333 lbs, he moves extremely well and has the athleticism that would make the Eagles purr.
A scary athlete, Dickersons’ stock was only held back by the fact he has quite a worrying injury history that includes a pair of torn ACL’s and three of his four season with the Crimson Tide being shut down early.
In 2019, Dickerson started all 13 games with four of them being at right guard and nine being at the center position. If his knee can stay healthy, then Jalen Hurts may have found a future stud to protect him at the line of scrimmage When Jason Kelce retires.
Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech
At 6’3, 284 lbs, Milton is on the lighter side of defensive tackles, but don’t let that fool you. Officially kicking off Roseman’s run of ridiculously athletic players with a low floor and a high ceiling, Williams is a fun prospect.
He ran a 4.67 40-yard dash, has a 38.5” vertical, and a 121” broad jump. An athletic monster, Williams plays well beyond his slender frame with explosive burst off the line, frantic hands, and a lot of smooth counters.
According to PFF, he had 30 QB pressures through 10 games in 2020. This partners well with his 10 TFL and 4.5 sacks. In 2019, he had 5.5 sacks and 9 TFL.
With the DT group getting a little long in the tooth, it made sense to kickstart the development conveyor belt once more.
Zech McPhearson, CB, Texas Tech
FINALLY, a cornerback!
Likely a nickel corner, McPhearson stands at 5’11, 195 lbs, he plays a lot larger than his size and is coming off of a big-time season with the Red Raiders. The thing that Eagles fans should be most excited about here is that he has proven to be very successful in zone coverage, which bodes very well for Jonathan Gannon’s defense.
Last season, he garnered an 85.7 coverage grade and ranked fourth among all corners. This was backed up by a 4 interception season that also saw him rack up 6 passes defensed.
He may well be able to play outside if he can work on his fluidity and awareness, but that’s where Jonathan Gannon’s prowess is going to come up big. The Eagles are trusting their staff to develop prospects, which gives them time and comfort to rebuild the group without pressure.
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
At 5’11, 195 lbs, Gainwell is a versatile back, who plucked 610 yards through the air in 2019 along with 3 receiving touchdowns. Add this to 459 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns, and an average of 4.3 yards per carry, and it’s hard not to get excited.
The Memphis product is able to burst through the hole with real power and thrives when he’s able to bounce runs outside.His size will be of concern if he was being drafted to become a workhorse back, but the Eagles won’t use him in that way.
If you look at the way Nick Sirianni used Nyheim Hines last year, we can assume that Gainwell will be used in a similar fashion.
Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC
Tuipulotu stands at 6’3, 305 lbs and brings with him quite an explosive get-off. A three-down DT with strong pass-rushing traits, he is one of the most athletic DT’s in this class.
He ended 2020 with 23 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. He also posted a very strong 2018 campaign where he played in all 12 games, registering 33 tackles, 5.5 TFL, and 4.5 sacks.
Tarron Jackson, EDGE, Coastal Carolina
The DE was technically the first drafted by the Eagles this year, but you can make the case that Williams could well line up on the outside.
Jackson featured at the Senior Bowl, which is an area of scouting we know the Eagles hold close to their heart. Standing at 6’2, 280 lbs, he’s likely marginalized to a DE role. Coastal Cal moved him outside prior to 2019 and proved that it’s not a bad thing. He ended that year with 12.5 TFL and 9.5 sacks before posting 14 TFL and 8.5 sacks in 2020. He was an All-Sun Belt honoree two years in a row.
Jacoby Stevens, S/LB, LSU
At 6’1, 212 lbs, Stevens was actually announced by the Eagles as a linebacker, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given his ability to do it all in LSU’s defense. He lined up in the box, down in the slot, as a single-high, and even came off the edge at times.
Stevens amassed 63 tackles, 6 TFL, and 3 sacks during the 2020 season after being named 2nd-team all-SEC one year before. The schematic fit is an obvious one, with Stevens reigning from the Tigers’ zonal defense.
He’ll join a Safety room without much in the any of long-term depth. K’Von Wallace fills a similar role, (that of another former LSU Safety in Jalen Mills) but with Anthony Harris reigning over the top and Rodney McLeod’s injury status uncertain, it makes sense to add another body to develop just in case.
Patrick Johnson, LB/EDGE, Tulane
Another player announced as a linebacker, Johnson stands at a lean 6’2, 240 lbs, and was actually compared to Derek Barnett by NFL.com
Johnson is a project, but he’s one that comes with plenty of production. He had 10 sacks last season, ranking 2nd in FBS while racking up 14.5 tackles for loss.
What he lacks in power, he makes up for in an array of pass-rushing moves. He could be a fun situational pass-rusher that fills out a new-look rotation and should safely cement last year’s trio as a returning group for 2021.
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